Vegan pretzel dog bites and beer cheese (we’re knee deep in baseball season)

It’s the most magical time of the year again! No, I’m not crazy and stuck in a winter wonderland, it’s baseball season folks.

Every baseball season my husband and I try to celebrate it with some of our favorite ballpark foods — veganized of course. One year we did chili cheese fries, the next chili cheese dogs, heck, we even ate peanuts out of the shell once (we’re dedicated, what can I say).

So this year it was kind of challenging trying to come up with something to top all our other favorites. Instead of focusing on just traditional ballpark fare, why not try to go a little more upscale on our first-pitch favorites. (Bet you’re wondering how many cliche baseball references I can squeeze into this one recipe, aren’t ya?)

Well, lucky for you, I’ve got plenty more under my ole’ cap, and this is actually going to be TWO recipes in ONE blog post.

I know, right?

OK, all kidding aside, if you’re a fan of America’s favorite past time, if you just like hot dogs rolled up in pretzels or hell, maybe you like eating food made of beer, I don’t know; you should really, really, really give this recipe a try. Total moment of honesty here: I’ve never made my own pretzels before, let alone shoved a hot dog in the middle of one.

But this was much easier than I ever dreamt it could be and the result was SO so SO so good. I was seriously leery of even attempting my own pretzel dough because, well, sometimes I don’t have the best luck with dough. Crazy, right? And when I started reading more about pretzel dough and how you achieve it’s pretzelness, I was seriously confused. But I promise you. Just follow these directions and you will be so happy you have these little bites a shot!

Partner them with the ever-sophisticated beer cheese dip and you’ve got yourself the perfect pair to take you out to the ball game (you can even have some Cracker Jack after because they’re accidentally vegan)!

Vegan pretzel dogs and beer cheese dip
(serves 3-4)
Pretzel dog bites ingredients:
1 cup warm water
1/2 stick of vegan butter (we use Earth Balance)
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS light brown sugar
2 tsps active dry yeast (or almost the entirety of one little package)
2 tsp salt
1 package vegan hot dogs (we used the Lightlife Smart dogs, the regular ones, with 8 in a package)
Oil to lightly coat bowl
Water to boil
1/2 cup baking soda
Coarse kosher salt to top pretzel dogs

Beer cheese ingredients:
1 bottle beer (I chose Eurotrash Pilz)
3 cups shredded vegan cheese (I used cheddar Daiya shreds)
8 ounces vegan cream cheese (we used the Trader Joes variety)
1 TBS garlic, minced

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, stir together warm water, melted vegan butter, brown sugar and yeast. Mix in stand mixer or with hand mixer until fully combined (a couple of minutes usually). Add salt and flour (cup by cup), either stir by hand or on low with your stand mixer. Repeat until all the flour is added. Knead the dough until it pulls away slightly from the bowl. If the dough is too sticky and damp, add 1 TBS of flour until you achieve the stretchy, doughy consistency we want.

Set your dough aside in a ball-shape and lightly oil a clean bowl. (Just a thin coating). Place your dough ball in it, cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in a war spot for 45 minutes. The dough should double in size.

Once your dough is ready, boil a medium or large pot of water on high (I think I used around 8 cups of water). Stir in the baking soda until it’s dissolved.

While you’re waiting on your water to come to a boil, cut your hot dogs into thirds. Next, tear your dough ball into four different smaller dough balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough into a large rope. You’ll cut this into six different pieces. Take one piece and wrap around a vegan hot dog third. Make sure to pinch the beginning and end of the pretzel dough together on the dog. Repeat with all the dough balls until all your hot dog bites are covered.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Next, drop your hot dog bites into the boiling water (I did about four at a time) and leave them in for about 30 seconds. You’ll notice they’ve puffed up some. Take them out and place on a greased baking sheet, sprinkling with coarse salt while they’re still damp. Bake them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they achieve the brown-doneness you like in your soft pretzel! Take out and let cool.

The beer cheese is ridiculously simple. In a medium saucepan, bring the bottle of beer to a simmer. (Note, a full bottle of beer in this recipe WILL leave a strong beer taste. If you don’t like that I suggest halving it and adding a couple tablespoons of butter to substitute.) Next, stir in the vegan cream cheese until smooth. Add in the shredded vegan cheese and mix until creamy and silky.

Share and impress all your friends or fight with your loved one over the last dog!

Regardless of what you do, this recipe is sure to be a home-run! (Hey I had to sneak one more in there!)

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Let your crock pot do the work: Vegan cheesy garlic bread

A few months ago I made my first batch of vegan monkey bread ever. Actually, I made my first batch of monkey bread ever  (vegan or not).

It was basically by luck that I stumbled across accidentally vegan refrigerated biscuit mix, but because I don’t   like to rely on those types of things I decided to try a dinner version of monkey bread with my own dough mix.

And because I’ve got a lot of crock pot soups and dinners in your future, I figured it’d be rude not to provide you with this uber delicious vegan cheesy garlic pull apart bread … courtesy of your crock pot.

So this recipe CAN be done if you can get your hands on three small canisters of vegan refrigerated biscuit dough, but if you’ve got some extra time, just give this homemade version a whirl.

Vegan Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread
(serves 6-8)
Ingredients:
3.5 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1 stick vegan butter (any kind will do)
2 TBS minced garlic (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup vegan parmesan (I used Galaxy Foods Vegan Sprinkles)
1 TBS Italian seasoning

Directions:
Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in vegetable shortening until the mixture is coarse crumbles. Stir in milk and knead for three to five minutes. Roll into 1/2 inch thick dough and then using a cookie cutter or knife, break off 50-cent sized pieces of dough. Coat your crock pot with cooking spray and then align the pieces along your crock pot. My crock pot is a biggie, so I don’t really have to layer very many of these pieces. If you do, it’s not a big deal, just add 30-60 minutes to your cooking time.

Once the pieces are layered, take a stick of butter and melt it in your microwave. Add the minced garlic into melted butter and pour over your dough mixture in the crock pot. Top with parmesan cheese (feel free to add more or less to taste) and Italian seasoning.

Cook on high for three hours or until the edges and top of the bread is golden brown. (It took my crock pot about two hours and 45 minutes, but a friend who has a smaller one needed almost four hours).

Slow cooker applesauce, a side dish you don’t want to miss

My husband and I grew up quite differently.

He lived in the middle of nowhere, in a town where the closest McDonalds was 45 minutes away (seriously, that’s what qualifies as middle of nowhere), on enough land that has family maintained a small farm for their own goods.

He had foods straight out of his ground and apple pie and applesauce straight from a tree.

I, on the other hand, have lived within 10 minutes of at least three McDonalds my whole life.

I couldn’t tell you the first time I was on an actual farm and my apple pies usually consisted of the drive-thru McDonalds variety (don’t lie, they WERE delicious) and my applesauce from good ole-fashioned Motts.

To be honest, I didn’t understand why on Earth someone would want to make their own applesauce. It seemed like an awful lot of work to go through cooking the apples, spicing them right and smashing them all up (I picture the grape stomping scene from «I Love Lucy») all by yourself to just have applesauce at the end of it. Now to bake a homemade apple pie, well I would have grown the apples myself.

And then, my slow cooking VeganMofo theme happened and I decided it was time to simplify the whole applesauce making. Thanks to my Crock Pot and my stick blender I’m ready to admit it.

I’m a homemade applesauce conformist.

This recipe is seriously so easy and so much fun to doctor to your own tastes, I have a feeling you’ll wonder what took you so long to leave the applesauce on the shelf.

Slow cooker applesauce
(serves 8-10)
Ingredients:
8 large apples (if you have to ask yourself if they’re large enough, they’re probably more medium.), try to ignore the stigma of «eating» vs «cooking» apple here. We’re going to throw them in a pot and cook them forever, get wild. I used two honeycrisp, two jonagold, two gala and two fujis.
2 TBS butter (I know, it’s weird, it’s not normally in «applesauce,» but I feel like homemade applesauce should be eaten warm and what better way to enjoy it than with a few pads of butter?)
1/4 cup almond milk (this mixed with the butter allows the apples to not stick and burn anywhere)

2 TBS brown sugar (just to add a bit of sweetness)
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice from one lemon

*Side note: This can be successfully made using just apples and a little lemon juice, just make sure to grease up the crock pot before hand. Being the Chubby Vegan Mom I had to take applesauce and try to make it taste like pie*

Directions:
Peel and chop up all the apples into quarter-size pieces. (The smaller you make them the shorter the cooking time).

Slice a lemon in half and squeeze the juice out (be careful not to drop lemon seeds in there!). Quick tip, to get the lemon juice all flowing, before cutting the lemon just roll it on the counter a few times with your hand, applying slight pressure. When it starts to get squishier the juice will come out easier.

Add in your butter, almond milk and vanilla extract. Stir around and make sure all the apples are coated. Add brown sugar and cinnamon powder.

Cook on high for three hours, stirring  3-4 times to keep the apples cooking evenly.

After three hours, take your stick blender (we got ours at a second-hand store for $5, woot!) and pulverize the apple chunks until they reach your desired consistency (we like it pureed). You could also do this by hand (it would result in slightly chunkier sauce or in your blender, which would seriously mix it).

Serve with a little brown sugar on top if you’ve got a sweet tooth like me or for a splash of color and something fun, add some broken cinnamon candies into the sauce and stir. You can keep this stuff in the fridge for two weeks (although it probably won’t last that long) or you can freeze it in separate containers to use for baking or just one-time serving needs!

Seriously, if you can peel an apple, you can make homemade applesauce. Trust me.

Vegan parmesan potato wedges and a book for the kids

There are a few nice things about making all of your meals in a crock pot. For starters, the dishes are usually very minimal, as most recipes allow you to dump everything into your slow cooker and let it … cook … slowly. Secondly, you hardly have to put any effort into the meals, you just throw the ingredients in and let it go. And lastly, you usually have leftovers, for days and days and days.

So while we’ve been choosing from a plethora of options, I’ve been getting by lately on throwing some side dishes into the crock pot to serve with all our leftovers. 

Today’s side dish is inspired by an email I got a few days ago from a vegan artist and children’s book author, Alexis St. John. She recently released a children’s book «Yukon’s Halloween Party» that will be available for FREE download on your Kindle for today (October 11) only!

The best part about St. John’s book is that rather than pounding out a very vegan message on every page, the story instead teaches children to treat all forms of life with respect, including humans and animals. It also encourages healthy eating habits with a party snack like edamame — a particular favorite of our very own Pearyn.

It’s a good story for younger kids, especially ones that may not have a full understanding of what being vegan or vegetarian means, but will understand that we love animals and don’t believe in harming them. The designs are cute, but not over-the-top and there were little details that made Pearyn ask to read this story over and over again (like a hidden owl, cat, bat and crow). 

So in the spirit of Yukon’s Halloween Party, I decided to provide all my fabulous readers with a recipe for Vegan parmesan pepper potato wedges … the kind that don’t burn in the stove and don’t need to be checked on constantly. (That’s my kind of potato!)

 

Vegan Parmesan Pepper Potato Wedges

(serves 8-10)

Ingredients:
3 lbs of red potatoes (sliced into wedges)

1 large sweet onion, diced thin

1/2 stick of butter (or 1/4 cup)

1/3 cup vegan parmesan (you can use store bought OR make your own quickly using a cup of raw cashews, 1 tsp salt, 2 TBS nutritional yeast, 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp of garlic powder, pulsed in a food processor)

1 TBS lemon extract

2 tsp oregano 

1 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper

Olive oil (to dress/taste)

Directions:

Coat your crock pot with some cooking spray. Cut potatoes into wedges (leave skins on!) and throw in a large bowl. Toss with lemon extract and olive oil until just a tiny bit shiny (you don’t want them super soaking or anything). Dice up onion and add oregano, salt, black pepper and vegan parmesan. When the mixture is all tossed up, dump it into your crock pot and top with 1/2 stick of butter cut into small slices. Cook on high for four hours, stirring occasionally. 

Vegan Cream Cheese: Never Buy it Again

No, I’m not going to spoil anyone’s vegan cream cheese bubble by telling you it’s somehow not vegan.

I’m going to spoil your vegan cream cheese bubble by telling you how to make it yourself.

And once you make this super yummy cream cheese, you just won’t want to go back to buying it.

Trust me on this one.

Don’t be scared by the ingredients, while some of them may seem like they’re on the pricier side, they’re the type of things that can easily be used in other vegan recipes so buying them in bulk really cuts down the cost for you. Cashews are great to make your own vegan cheese or cream sauce and coconut oil lasts seemingly forever and is great in baking!

Vegan Cream Cheese (it’s as simple as that)
(Makes a seriously decent amount, probably two-three normal tub sizes)
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup raw cashews (soak them in water overnight to soften them)
1/2 cup water
2 TBS hummus (this adds a much-needed tang to the recipe, don’t skip out)
1/4 cup Healthy Top vegan whipped cream (I really dig the whipped-textured cream cheese, this could be omitted but I’d add about 1/4 cup of vanilla almond or soy milk)
1 TBS coconut oil
2 TBS lemon juice (also don’t skip this, adds a bit of zip)

Directions:
Soak your raw cashews in a bowl overnight. In the morning, throw the cashews, water and coconut oil into a blender (I used my super Vitamix). Next, add in the hummus, whipped cream (this doesn’t have to be ‘whipped’ beforehand, just use it in its chunky block form) and lemon juice.
Refrigerate for at least one hour and stir before serving! Enjoy on anything from crackers to bagels!

The best part about this recipe is that it’s a blank canvas. There are a plethora of varieties you can make with it! The one in the picture above has 1/3 cup brown sugar and about 3 tsp of cinnamon added to it. I topped a pumpkin bagel with this mix and it was seriously, seriously heaven.

The perfect side for your perfect picnic

About a month ago my husband and I decided to step out of our boring rut we’d found ourselves in and started going on more picnics. On Mondays and Tuesdays — days when my husband and I both get out early enough to enjoy the day still — we found ourselves packing the same boring things: lunch «meat» sandwiches, fruit and carrot sticks. Seriously, we were one milk box shy of being in fourth grade all over again.

So finally I started recreating picnic favorites from our past, things like macaroni and fruit salad and chocolate chip cookies.

We definitely spiced up our picnics with things from our past, so here’s a macaroni salad to take you WAY back.

Pasta from your past

(Makes a WHOLE bunch)

Ingredients:

1lb cooked pasta of your choice (elbow macaroni if you’re really throwing back)

2 cups Vegenaise

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

4 roma tomatoes diced up

1 large onion diced up

2 cucumbers diced up

1 can chickpeas

Salt & pepper to taste

2 tsps mustard powder

Directions:

Boil the pasta (al dente) and then fold in vegenaise. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and mustard powder. Dice up veggies and add tomatoes, onion, cucumbers and chickpeas. Refrigerate for an hour and then enjoy! 

Not your momma’s coleslaw

Yesterday you might have noticed this giant mound of deliciousness on the plate next to my curry pita. Don’t remember and too lazy to scroll down and look for the picture?

I’ll refresh your memory.

It looks so creamy and normal, it’s hard to believe it’s vegan.

But don’t be mistaken. This isn’t your mother’s coleslaw. This is a flavorful, Asian-fusion slaw which balances out the almost sickeningly creamy vegenaise base with a tangy white rice vinegar and just the right amount of sesame oil. Add some bok choy stalks, a little fresh ginger and your run-of-the-mill coleslaw ingredients and you’ve got yourself a new spin on a family favorite. Even Little P couldn’t resist this delicious coleslaw and its extra zip, and she doesn’t even like vegenaise!

Not your momma’s coleslaw
(Serves 6-8)
Ingredients: 
2 bags coleslaw mix (because I was lazy and didn’t want to deal with the cabbage in head form)
1 cup shredded carrot
1 large onion diced
2 stalks bok choy
2 TBS sesame oil
3/4 cup white rice vinegar
1 cup vegenaise
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS dry mustard
1 TBS cumin

Directions:
Dice veggies and toss them together in a large bowl.
Add sesame oil, vinegar, vegenaise, sugar, dry mustard and cumin. Fold ingredients until all the veggie are coated in a creamy-tangy layer.
Place in a food processor and «process» or «blend» for a few seconds (this will result in a super tiny, all the ingredients blend together) type coleslaw. (Just don’t overpurify and end up with a goopy mess)!
Place in the fridge for one hour and serve.

Vegan naan … so good you’ll have ‘naan’ left

This blog title is overdosing on corny.

But it’s so true.

I made six pieces and we gobbled it up even though we weren’t even hungry, just because it was THAT good.

The best part about it? It’s the most low-maintenance recipe and method for making vegan naan that I’ve come by.

Now if that’s not reason enough to at least give this recipe a whirl, then I don’t know it.

So good you’ll have ‘Naan’ left
(Makes 6)
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp tumeric
1/2 cup vegan «buttermilk» (1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 TBS lemon juice, let it sit for 10 minutes)
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (we used Tofutti because it rocks)
1/4 cup oil
Minced garlic (a few spoonfuls will do)
Vegan butter (optional)
(You’ll be adding handfuls of flour as you go, to help with rolling it out, etc)

Directions:
Mix together vegan «buttermilk» and set aside.
Throw together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Add in sour cream, oil and garlic.
Mix in «buttermilk.»
Fold together ingredients until dough is semi stretchy.
Knead for 5-10 minutes.
Place on the stove with a towel over the bowl for one hour.
Break dough into six baseball-sized dough balls, then on a floured surface roll one ball out and flatten into a long oval. We made ours about 1/6 inch thick, and I’d recommend keeping it on the thinner side. It helps with the cooking.
In a skillet, cook a thin layer of oil on medium heat. Place flattened, dough oval into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until bubbly and light brown on sides.
Place on plate to cool slightly, brush with melted butter lightly on both sides.

Enjoy with your favorite dip! (Or try out this super yummy spinach artichoke dip; so good it could fool your nonvegan mama)

Spinach artichoke dip that could fool your nonvegan mama

It’s been four incredibly long years since I’ve had any form of spinach artichoke dip.

So I’ve been toying with a few recipes, but was never brave enough to try them because I was afraid they’d disappoint.

Boy, did these not disappoint.

In fact, my taste buds were delighted with this recipe.

It’s football season again, break out this bad boy and dazzle everyone else’s taste buds, vegan and nonvegan alike.

Spinach artichoke dip
(Serves 4-6)
Ingredients:
1 16 oz bag of frozen spinach
1 14 oz can of artichokes
1 onion, diced
1 14 oz can of cannellini beans
1 tub vegan garlic and herb cream cheese (we used Tofutti because it rocks)
1/2 cup Vegenaise (do NOT skip this ingredient)
A couple spoonfuls of minced garlic
Bread crumbs
Vegan parm (or nutritional yeast will do)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400
In a skillet, cook spinach, artichokes, onion and beans (about 15 minutes, just don’t burn it)
Blend beans and garlic in a food processor, then mix in vegenaise and cream cheese.
Mix ingredients from skillet and top with bread crumbs and vegan parm.
Bake covered for 20 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes.
Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Need something to eat it on? I recommend some kick-butt naan!

Bacon ranch mashed potatoes

I don’t even think this needs an explanation.

 

It’s bacon, ranch and potatoes. You don’t get much better than that.

It’s a crazy simple recipe, but in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 80 years and haven’t tried this combo yet then do it.

Bacon ranch mashed potatoes

(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs small red potatoes (that’s half of a 5 lb bag)

1 tub Tofutti sour cream

1 pack of ranch seasoning 

1 shaker of vegan bacon bits, tempeh bacon or some other «bacon essence»

2 cloves garlic

4 green onions, sliced and chopped

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375.

Quarter potatoes and boil them for 30 minutes.

Hand mash (because you’ll need the workout after eating these bad boys and they doing things by hand means there’s more love in them)

Add cut chopped green onion and garlic.

Take ranch seasoning and mix with Tofutti sour cream.

Mix «ranch» sour cream into mashed potatoes.

Place ranchy potatoes into a greased casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. 

Top with «bacon» bits.

Enjoy. Serve with more comfort food.